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Spinal Cord Injury Model System

Gaylord is a member of the New England Regional Spinal Cord Center (NERSCIC) which is one of 14 Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems in the U.S. The Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) program is overseen by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). The NIDRR awards model system grants to institutions that are national leaders in research and patient care and offer outstanding comprehensive specialty services. The process for becoming a model system is rigorous and the grant must be reapplied for every five years. Gaylord received its second grant for this grant cycle and continues as a member of NERSCIC.

The model system program studies the course of recovery and outcomes following the delivery of a coordinated system of care for SCI patients. Under this program, the 14 centers provide comprehensive rehabilitation services to individuals with SCI and conduct spinal cord research, including clinical research. Research is designed to improve rehabilitative interventions that can help optimize levels of community participation, employment, and overall quality of life for individuals with SCI.

As a model system many of Gaylord's patients with SCI are involved in studies funded through the NIDRR. These are studies that they would not ordinarily be able to participate in unless they completed inpatient rehabilitation at another model system. There are also other studies that outpatients from the community can participate in if they are eligible. 

Our purpose is to:

  • Research many different aspects of SCI through onsite and collaborative studies and data collection.
  • Inform people with SCI, their families, the general public and medical professionals about SCI - including rehabilitation, the latest resources, adaptive technology, and research.
  • Provide services for people with spinal cord injuries during their initial hospitalization and after discharge from Gaylord.
  • Work collaboratively with NERSCIC to support individuals with disabilities to live as fully as possible as active members of their communities.
  • Provide Gaylord's patients with SCI the opportunity to be involved in research, when appropriate.

Co-Principle Investigator

David Rosenblum, MD, is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and subspecialty certified in Spinal Cord Medicine and Brain Injury Medicine. He serves as the Medical Director of Rehabilitation Medicine at Gaylord, where he directs the SCI Program and provides Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation consultations to patients at Yale New Haven Hospital. In addition to his administrative responsibilities and research activities at Gaylord Hospital, Dr. Rosenblum has an active inpatient and outpatient SCI practice. As co-principle investigator of NERSCIC, Dr. Rosenblum is responsible for overseeing Gaylord's model system activities and research. 


The MCMC project uses telehealth techniques to improve the health and function of people with traumatic SCI. MCMC will help individuals with SCI find and maintain quality primary care, including preventive screenings and prevention of secondary conditions through conversations with a human Peer-Health Coach for identified problems; and an accompanying user-friendly resource book.

The SCI Model Systems National Database uses the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) as a tool to assess and track function. But there are concerns about the appropriateness of using the FIM in the SCI population because it may miss differences in function among people with SCI who have different levels of injury severity. Seven Model Systems Centers conducted a study over the past five years and developed a new measure that includes functional activities relevant and important to persons across all levels and severity of SCI injury. We are now continuing this study with nine Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems programs to enhance and evaluate the this new tool, called the Spinal Cord Injury Functional Index (SCI-FI).

This project will evaluate the validity, sensitivity, and responsiveness to change of the SCI-QOL measurement system. The sensitivity of the scales to detect change and the direction of change of key areas of functioning including activity limitations will be examined as well as secondary medical complications, emotional functioning, and social participation. These variables will be assessed at multiple points during the recovery process and injury “trajectories” of change will be developed from shortly after injury through the initial years of living with a disability.

The purpose of this project is to improve the quality and equity of assistive technology provision and outcomes for individuals with SCI. By understanding utilization and impact of assistive technology, raising awareness of variation in wheelchair quality and identify factors associated with variation in quality and equity of care and outcomes, this project will identify areas of need in the procurement of SCI specific technology needs.



SCI Model System/NERSCIC Program Information

Call Diana Pernigotti: (203) 679-3563